Eight Townhomes Proposed for Holy Corners Parking Lot in Central West End

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Architectural design for eight proposed townhomes on Washington Place are being tweaked in an effort to win approval from the neighborhood and the city’s Cultural Resources Office (CRO) and Preservation Board. Initial sketch renderings are below.

New renderings show a more segmented facade for the project proposed for the parking lot of St. John’s Methodist Church. The design of the project will be dictated by local historic district guidelines The alterations seem to have been met favorably by the Central West End Association (CWEA) Planning & Development Committee.

A letter sent to the city’s Preservation Review Board, which will consider a recommendation from the CRO, states in part that the committee concluded that the proposed use is appropriate for the site and that they prefer the new design over the prior one. It also states that final design details and material selection will be critical to the success of the design (read the full letter). The project is set to be considered at the February 27 Preservation Board meeting.

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Our previous story from 2/23:

A development featuring eight three-story townhomes is being proposed for the surface parking lot of St. John’s Methodist Church, one of the landmarks of the Holy Corners Historic District. The district has seen development plans come and go, with Link Auction Galleries occupying St. John’s, but Cathedral Square Brewery showing no movement on its long-held plans to open in the Second Baptist Church across the street at 500 North Kingshighway.

Plans for the townhomes appear to be getting pushback from the city’s Cultural Resources Office that will most likely result in design revisions. While the project’s height, mass, scale, and location is deemed to “mostly comply” with the strict Central West End Local Historic District, fenestration shows substantially more glazing (larger windows occupying the facade) than other buildings found in the district.

The project is proposing no new curb cuts, with access via an existing alley. Any request for tax abatement or other incentives has not been made public. In general, townhome development such as this represents progressive and small land use. Such homes produce significantly more property tax revenue and add more residential density to the city than stand-alone single-family homes, or large historic mansions.

Previous design concept renderings:

From the St. Louis City Preservation Board agenda:

THE PROPOSAL: The applicant proposes to construct eight three-story attached townhouses on a portion of the current parking lot behind St. John’s Methodist Church (now converted to commercial use) in the
Holy Corners Landmark District. The townhouses will extend west of the existing cul-de-sac into Washington Place.

OWNER: 5000 Washington Blvd. Development LLC

APPLICANT: Killeen Studios/Michael Killeen

RECOMMENDATION: That the Preservation Board withhold preliminary approval of the proposed design as it does not comply with the Central West End Historic District Standards.

PRELIMINARY FINDINGS & CONCLUSION: The Cultural Resources Office’s consideration of the Central West End Historic District standards for New Construction or Additions to Existing Residential or Institutional Buildings led to these preliminary findings.
• 5034 Washington Place is located in the Central West End Local Historic District.
• The Central West End Standards for New Construction require that new buildings replicate the siting, massing, scale, street rhythm and exterior materials of adjacent buildings.
• The proposal is to construct a large building consisting of 8 attached townhouses. While attempts have been made to translate this large structure into a more sympathetic design, the mass and scale of the building, as well as the substantial use of stucco and large expanses of fenestration depart from the vocabulary expressed by historic buildings on Washington Place.

Based on these preliminary findings, the Cultural Resources Office recommends that the Preservation Board withhold preliminary approval of the proposed design as it does not comply with the Central West End Local Historic District standards.

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  • PleasedGuest

    Wonderful idea! This makes me happy.

  • Ihanaf

    Oddly modular and dated. Can’t complain about the density though.

  • John

    Looks decent. I think an earthtone color would look less institutional and more “homey” instead of the gray/silver building detail. I would also like to see more brick and stone detail and less metal panels or other cheaper material.

    With all of the windows, having uniform interior window treatments would help for a cohesive look.

    I like the “idea” of the clear, glass-front balconies. However, in reality, I would be concerned about a cluttered “on display” look once residents put out balcony furniture, plants, etc. A solid panel balcony would obstruct the street view for residents, but it would also provide more privacy and a less cluttered view of the building from the street for pedestrians and cars driving by.

  • Presbyterian

    These updated renderings show that the developer is sensitive to the concerns of Cultural Resources and the board. I hope the board approves the revised design to move forward in consultation with CR.

    • Framer

      Looks really nice.

    • Dominic Ricciotti

      In my humble opinion, this proposal is the best example yet of quality infill in an existing block of quality historic architecture. The massing, scale, and proportions of the proposed eight townhouses is entirely consonant with the existing architecture on both sides of the street. These aspects are far more important than using the same materials as the older buildings. And one needn’t strip away the metal and other 21 century characteristics just for the sake of unity. The goal should not be to make a new “old ensemble.”
      The regular rhythm of the scheme’s masses and voids, as well as that of the alternating heights of the roof-line, is a fine foil to the irregularities of the same features of the existing homes. This design proclaims loudly and clearly that the new homes are an addition to an historic block and not merely a historicist duplicate; it expresses that this is an evolving, living neighborhood, with potential for further harmonious change in the future. We don’t want to turn our historic neighborhoods into museum-like spaces.
      I remember returning to my home town of StL and visiting Lafayette Square in the 70s when that lovely but frayed district was just being reclaimed; there were lots of holes waiting for infill. Nowadays not a hole remains and you can’t tell which houses are historic and which are contemporary. Achieve esthetic unity between old and new not by slavish imitation, but rather by preserving the scale, proportions, and massing of the older styles.

  • Presbyterian

    This plan is a much better use of space than the existing parking lot. I hope compromises can be made to keep the relative urban density that this project proposes.

    • brickhugger

      Agreed. Doesn’t have to be exactly like the existing homes, but definitely come closer in design than the current plan.

  • Riggle

    What ever happened to Cathedral Square brewery?

    • Dahmen Piotraschke

      enough breweries and this jaded sense of en masse micro brews as some hipster chic for St. Louis. So tired of the new alcoholic promotion in country music and down to a populist scam. I stopped smoking weed almost a year ago, and would rather promote good weed and new tax revenue..than the new adult and expensive whisky/scotch classy promotion and sexy women drinking red wine on every TV show…but it is so awful when so many are doing pain pills and xanax…but end up dying when they need to get street dope. This new housing is great..and I hope it may spawn new affordable single housing.

      • Adam

        I don’t even know what this means. Prior to prohibition St. Louis had over 40 breweries and countless beer halls and gardens. How hipster chic.

        • Tim E

          The enough breweries pretty much hits on the fact that demand might not be there from a business perspective which I would have to agree. Can only open so many brew hubs when a lot of beer is still sold in six packs, including Budweiser, at the local store.
          Dahmen after that I’m with Adam and not sure what your getting at…

          • Adam

            I mean that’s fine, and if the demand isn’t there they won’t all survive. But it has nothing to do with hipsters. There are just as many young professionals drinking craft beer after work as there are hipsters. Guess I’m as tired of the anti-hipster cliches as some are of the hipster cliches.

      • T-Leb

        Produce in St. Louis, ship anywhere. I would suggest turning off country music anytime it’s playing to alleviate your concerns.